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Re: <nettime> ACT 4 RADICAL EUROPE
nico on Wed, 17 Jan 2007 21:36:18 +0100 (CET)


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Re: <nettime> ACT 4 RADICAL EUROPE


Hi,

I have a few problems with this text, not least because of the 
contradictions that exist between a call for a new social compact that 
would continue the existence of both capital and the state, and open 
borders. A call for a new Europe, built on the model of the nation-state 
under capitalism, is both in contradiction to any call for 'no borders' 
(or even open borders) and in direct conflict with the aims and momentum 
of many of the social movements that have come to the fore within the 
countries of the global North within the last ten years: in fact, I'd go 
so far as to say it is a conservative cashing in on their potentional, 
and an attempt to temper their revolutionary edge. Anyway?

?The spectres of pauperization and exclusion are haunting the people of 
Europe. Over the last twenty years, precarity and inequality have broken 
the Christian/Social Democratic compromise of the postwar period on 
which modern Europe was founded - namely, rising incomes for employees 
and rising power for their unions, in exchange for acceptance of the 
capitalist system -  and have left in its wake the rise of immense 
corporate and private wealth, next to escalating exclusion and social 
angst. Acting for radical Europe means first of all mobilizing 
decisively against social inequality, labor precarization, and the 
arrogance of the elites and their privileges, as millions have recently 
done in France and Denmark.

In Europe today, the central struggle against neoliberalism is the fight 
against precarity.?

There has most definitely been a reorganisation of work/non-work both 
globally and within Europe recently (though I feel a more interesting 
and accurate account is to be found in Silvers 'Forces of Labour' than 
within the paradigm of 'precarity' as it exists within say the 
chainworkers model). This 'new order' won't be overly disrupted or 
challenged by such a project as a new 'radically democratic' Europe 
however. The new Europe depends on cheap labour, and its precarious or 
casual nature. And you are right to point to the current European border 
regime as maintaining it. However, a new Europe depends on a new 
re-drawing of its borders and boundaries -- not their erasure. To 
continue Europe is to continue its limits -- there can be no such space 
without borders or limits. You are not calling for an end to Europe, but 
to its reorganisation under a new social compact -- new welfare systems, 
new structures. Both logically and with regards to sheer economics, this 
requires borders and controls. Who can enter, when, how, to access what? 
the new welfare and social compacts must be funded by the global 
inequities you would wish to challenge.

Borders are essential for the functioning of Europe, new or old. There 
can be no 'democratic space' without then, nor can a new welfare state 
be funded without them. Hence, there is a contradiction in the basic 
aims of the manifesto:

OUR BASIC AIMS

To open the borders of Europe to all cultures and peoples.
To promote stronger European political integration and horizontal
federalism and regionalism around these values.

There cannot be open borders AND a stronger European political 
integration and federalism. What there will be under this is a 
Swiss-style corporatist 'buy-in' welfare system for the privileged few, 
and a 'human' border control system operating in conjunction with, 
perhaps, 'ethically aware' police forces. You are not calling for the 
end of the camps, but for their reorganisation under a new social compact.

The cosmopolitanism that you speak of is, as in previous forms of 
cosmopolitanism, based on a racist division of both labour and forms of 
life

?A new European cosmopolitanism of radical-democratic (rad-dem) 
orientation must take its place, with horizontal federalism, social 
action, green politics, and gay rights at its core. Otherwise, the 
nation-state will rear its ugly head: strong-armed nationalists and 
right-wing populists already are a serious threat in many countries of 
Europe.?

This new cosmopolitanism cannot be but a continuation of the 
nation-state if it is European: a 'democratic Europe' is a Europe 
governed by institutional bodies that can only be a continuation of 
those bodies of governance that currently exist. This is obvious from 
some of the 'aims':

To give the European Commission a new role: that of European Government, 
expression of the European Parliament, accountable to and petitionable 
by the European Public.
To promote pan-European referenda on constitutional issues, EU 
directives and legislation.
To reform the European Court, so that it can be directly addressed in 
lieu of national justice in case of the violation of European 
fundamental rights.
To levy a European corporate tax and a European carbon tax.
To return to keynesian, expansionary fiscal and monetary policies, thus 
abrogating the Stability Pact and its provisions.

These aims cannot be but a continuation of the nation-state in an 
expanded 'European' form. And, as such, constitute a continuation of the 
nation-state, abet in a 'block' formation (see Brian Holmes's 
Continental drift piece -- apols Brian if I have gotten the name of the 
piece wrong -- I do not have it to hand). Racism is an implicit part of 
this continuation (Foucault's Society must be defended' is excellent on 
this point).

Any reordering of the current world-system, presumably with China-India 
at its productive centre and Europe as its financial heart, will not be 
overly threatened by such a democratic reordering -- nor will the 
controls of the flows of migration, as the borders of Europe will remain 
intact. The 'income security' that you write of based on a new 'European 
welfare system' is incompatible with an open border. And hence there are 
limits on the reduction of the 'persecution of immigrants and refugees' 
that you propose. Under your proposal there would be no end to the 
persecution, just a more humanitarian regime of control, ultimately 
making a mockery of the transnational solidarity that you talk of. 
Moreover, the actual ability of Europe to re-structure or implement a 
new welfarism is highly questionable, considering it is precisely 
because of the profitability crisis of capitalism that occurred in the 
70's due to numerous factors that included the cost of welfare for all 
that claimed it within the countries of the North (or desired its 
expansion to a similar level that you speak of) that welfarism is being 
dismantled, In addition, it is also unlikely because both state and 
capital seem to be pursuing a strategy of mixing workfare, welfare for 
the rich, and endo-colonialism, and would be, I think, unlikely to want 
to return to the paradigm of welfare such as existed in the 70's.

?Today, Europe's multiethnic youth is economically discriminated and
increasingly alienated. The European younger generation is caught
between unemployment and precarity, and unable to attain basic social
goods (home, higher education, welfare etc). Gerontocracy of the
elites and consequent privileges for the rentier classes are killing
Europe's future by unfairly burdening European young families and
excluding the creative class from economic and political decisions.?

To start from the category of youth, rather than from the variations 
within this category, is to ignore the very real differences young 
people face within Europe. The conditions within the suburbs of say 
Paris or London more closely resemble the colony than the metropolis 
inhabited by the 'aristocratic precarious' or the varying managerial and 
creative classes (as problematic as those categorisations are). It is 
not just a matter of inclusion -- these are people who, by and large, 
cannot be included in the project of Europe. It is not by accident or 
for purely ideological reasons that a counter-insurgency program is 
being followed in the countries of the global South, or that a process 
of endo-colonialism has been begun in the areas of the global North that 
house the 'dangerous classes'. Again, this distinction is necessary for 
the smooth functioning of the current epoch of capitalism. Not everyone 
can be 'cut-in' under the current system -- this is only for a few. To 
reorder Europe without completely destroying capitalism would be to 
merely change the redistribution of wealth amongst those lucky few 
'within Europe' (within the deal of Europe, not its borders?). The 
recourse to a discourse of rights in more evidence of the desire for the 
reconstitution of the state -- a nation-state where the national is the 
European. These rights, as it has been pointed out by many people 
previously, are grounded on the lack of rights of others, on global 
inequities and ultimately violence. A system that must be destroyed, not 
modified.

nico



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